What is a job guarantee — & why?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Policy Genius

Unlike the existing entitlement system, which supports people once they become poor, a job guarantee can keep them from becoming poor in the first place, said William Darity, professor of public policy at Duke University. 

What kind of jobs would people do?

Darity, who co-wrote a proposal for a federal job guarantee policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research institute, hopes a variety of jobs will be available, from work on physical infrastructure like road and bridge repair to human services like child and elder care, along with opportunities for writers, artists and musicians. A job guarantee program could also create entirely new jobs depending on public need.

One of the earliest jobs guarantee was part of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. In response to the Great Depression, Roosevelt created a public jobs program to provide work for anyone seeking employment as part of his "Economic Bill of Rights." This included programs like the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, which provided the kind of job guarantee envisioned by Darity.

Professional child and elder care could free up women who bear the burden of providing this care for free, which could help increase productivity and reduce the gender pay gap, Darity said.

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